I have noticed quite a few Panasonic Toughbook laptops for sale cheap on Ebay. The systems are junk, way too slow and old to be usefull for anything except for a door stop.
I was wondering if anyone has kicked the idea around of stripping the screen away from the unit and using it as a wall mounted touchscreen. I assume that it wouldn't be that simple, but all of the pieces and parts would be there.
Am I over simplifying this?
Do you think that it could be done with just a very basic understanding of electronics?

All comments ideas will be greatfully accepted.

This could be a perfect test subject for a "Frankenstein Touchscreen"
I am certainly no expert, but I don't think this will be trivial. The screen alone is worthless, you need the video/vga input and either a serial or usb interface for the touch component. In a laptop these pieces may actually be a part of the laptop motherboard. So even if you can find and remove these components, you need to find a way to mount them. I think it would be easier to scavenge a regular touchscreen monitor.
I'd agree: not "trivial" by most folks' definition.

I've pulled apart a few laptops (okay, probably a couple dozen at most) and the ribbon cables that connect the LCD screens - and the touchscreen elements that overlay them (yes, I've pulled apart touchscreen tablets as well) - are not something that I'd endeavor to "extend" or otherwise attach to in any way.

The biggest issue that comes to my mind is that the connectors are flexible plastic pieces with very delicate "tinning" for conduction. Not a pretty sight to connect for my inexperienced approaches; though I expect someone here will point out an easy way. :blink:

If one could get a direct adapter from the ribbon cable to a standard VGA and serial (or USB), perhaps...

In short, yeah... I'd look for either a touchscreen computer or a touchscreen to attach to another computer.
The problem with using a screen for a laptop is that, much like an LCD monitor, the screen itself is useless. There is a controller board in every LCD monitor (and in your case, on the laptop mobo or somewhere around there) that converts the signal out of the video card into something that the monitor can display. Because of this there is no "adapter" to go from that ribbon cable to VGA or DVI, because there needs to be the circuitry in the middle. That being said, there are places online that sell the display control units, but they are not cheap at all. Furthermore, like Steve said, you'd need something to control the touchscreen aspect as well. This would definitely not be something you want to fool with. If you ever got it working, I'm positive it would cost you more money than just buying a touchscreen, and without a doubt tons of time as well.
Just to throw in a twist:

How about "re-mounting" the display on the laptop flipped around so that when closed it still covers the keyboard, but faces out - kind of like a tablet pc - and adding a serial or USB touchscreen overlay to that. I've thought about trying that with an old laptop I have. Although on second thought; it's probably easier and still less expensive to just buy an eBay Fujitsu 3400/3500.

The displays on the 3400 and 3500 are dark and hard to see at a distance. Even though it is more expensive it might be worth gettting a touchscreen monitor and a cheap PC if you are goign to wall mount the unit anyway.
I have found the 3500X units to be much better - though certainly not comparable to my Motion tablets... but the price is right.

Awesome...Lots of useful info on Fujitsu...I am narrowing down to 3400 as a remote/photo frame/automation ect...

I however would like to keep the tablet mobile and hate a protuding wirless card. Is it possible to get the wireless connectivity w/o any ugly look. I mean is there a wireless card that's fits into PCMCIA slot all the way inside without showing up the antenna...

Though about those wireless card made for pda (CF based wi-fi cards) but not sure if any one is available with windows XP driver or whether these card can fit Fujitsu snuggly...

If we're talking about the old touch-screen 3400 here - not the new 34xx pen-based units - then definitely look at the 3500X units. The screen quality is WAY WAY better. I have one 3400 - got shipped the wrong unit and didn't notice it for a month so I'm stuck with it :D - and you don't want it if you can afford and find the 3500X units (I have five of them and two P600s - one indoor screen, one outdoor screen).

I have not found a decent wireless card that doesn't protrude. If you find one, please be sure to post. I suspect it will damage the distance significantly if one is found; but I'm interested in trying it.

I - for one - would be comfortable jimmying a card with wires running around the plastic housing for an antenna - so long as they're all inside the case. I just haven't taken the time to rip apart a card yet.
Hello gregoryx,

Thanks for you response. I was referring to 3400. Thanks for your recommendation towards 3500x. Will be careful...

This Linksys CF wireless G card comes to my mind. I am however not sure that with a CF adapter, this card can fit snuggly inside the PCMCIA slot of fujitsu 3400. Would love to know if you intend to venture out and try. Waiting for my bonus check to buy 3400. ;)

Its says that its compatible with Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 or 2003. Not sure if the card will work under XP. Googling resulted me to this Open Driver site...Would love to know more from your research...

Haven't tried that approach. I have ripped g mini-PCI cards out of Linksys and Netgear WAPs and put them into laptops in place of b cards and got the drivers to work for those; but I have not tried the CF with adapter approach. I bet it'd work, though. The drivers are pretty raw from what I saw.
Hello gregoryx,

Thanks for your feedback...It this something you intend to try...I would like to pitch in as I will also benefit from your research and investment.

I found some discussion around using it with laptop (win XP) at this forum

One of our installers is converting over to the ELK from the Stargate, he just purchased a Fujitsu 3500 from e-Bay and is going to use it as a touch screen. I had it here for a few hours and cleaned it up an played with it. It's not speedy (500mhz) but it definitely gets the job done. The ELK-RM loaded with no problem and worked really well. My only complaint would be a request for a little bit better CPU and memory availability. The other discussion was some Ramline handhelds up for auction at the same time. I haven't seen one up close, but they are definitely slower.

Another install from an IT tech (Jorge you out there?) has some Motion touch screens and those were much faster then the Fujitsu units.

A word of caution, I see a bunch of TC1000 units with a 1ghz processor being auctioned, I read up on the weird 1ghz CPU and it seems to be just a magnet for bad news. Tons of complaints about speed and apparently they die young.
gregoryX, I had a "OEM" orinocco card a few years ago. Compeletely flush when in a PCMCIA slot. There is an antenna connector on it's external edge. I ran this to a wire that became it's antenna. I don't know if I still have it, but they did exist (no external bulk antenna).